Exactly two weeks ago, my parents and I returned from our vacation to Italy, England, Jordan, and Egypt. We had a blast! However, there were definitely a few hiccups. These are a few tips to help you prepare for your next vacation!
- Be sure to solicit feedback about people’s preferences regarding flight times. For example, one of the flights I booked to Luxor left around 10:30 pm. My dad was a little irritable because he likes to be in bed early. He later expressed his preference to leave early afternoon. He didn’t express this in the planning phase which is why I chose an evening flight. It’s crucial for everyone to be vocal in the planning phase!!
- Book pre-arranged airport transportation. This allows you to avoid the mele which can ensue when you arrive at the airport. Typically cab drivers can be aggressive, especially towards foreigners at the airport.
- Make sure the itinerary includes at least 1 free day in each city. Because we visited a few different countries in a short period of time, I did not do a good job of allowing my parents to have more free time, which my mother later expressed.
- 2-3 days in a new city/country is ideal. As much as I love to travel, spending time in the airport is not my favorite way to pass the time. Therefore, the more time you have between flights the better.
- Wait to book excursions upon arrival. This was a new one for me. Prior to traveling to Jordan, I booked a rather expensive tour to Petra. Once I arrived in Amman, I realized I could have saved exponentially more money if I had waited. I can’t say if this is always the case, but I’ll say it pays to do your research.
- Bring small bills to use for tips. My dad made the mistake of bringing hundred dollars bills. In Egypt, USD is widely accepted but vendors don’t typically have smaller bills to exchange.
- DON’T use currency exchange services at the airport. I know they’re really convenient but the truth is they charge a high commission which isn’t worth it. I exchanged about $130 and lost more than 20$ in the process. Get money from the ATM or exchange money at the bank for the best rates.
- Research airline baggage fees ahead of time. Most major international airlines allow for a free checked bag. However, smaller airlines sometimes charge for checked bags so it’s better to be prepared than to be surprised. We flew to Rome on Alitalia and the fee to check a bag was 50 euros ($60), which was definitely a bummer.
- Time is sometimes more valuable than money. When we arrived in Venice, I attempted to find our Airbnb by following the host’s directions to the place and later relied on google maps but I was unsuccessful. Because Venice is on the water, there are no taxis aside from water taxis. Mind you water taxis are not everywhere you look. As result, there are porters who you can pay for a nominal fee to bring your bags to your hotel or Airbnb. I initially ignored them because I figured I could find the place on my own. I was wrong which is why my dad ultimately gave in. In the end after about an hour of walking all over Venice we found the place. However, in the process we missed the gondola ride reservation. Had I initially took the porters up on their offer, I wouldn’t have let $140 go down the drain.
10. Be sure to check the weather ahead of time! I knew it was going to be hot in Jordan and Egypt but I didn’t anticipate HOW hot it would be. It was difficult to dress how I normally would since women in muslim countries tend to be more conservative in their dress.